Saddam again delays envoy's trip

Monday, January 27, 2003

CAIRO Iraqi President Saddam Hussein continues to withhold sending his envoy to Egypt due to U.S. threats to arrest him on charges of war crimes.

Arab diplomatic sources said Saddam has obtained insufficient U.S. guarantees that his envoy Ali Hassan Majid would not be arrested in Cairo once he arrives for talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Majid was to have arrived in Egypt last week to discuss an Arab proposal for Saddam's exile in exchange for immunity from international prosecution on charges of war crimes.

At first, the Bush administration appeared ready to relay guarantees that Majid would not be arrested, Middle East Newsline reported. But the sources said Washington rejected an Iraqi request that Majid, a member of the ruling Iraqi Revolutionary Council, would not be detained after his visit to Egypt.

The result has been that Saddam has again suspended plans for Majid's visit. The sources said Egypt and Iraq are discussing issues through other channels.

On Saturday, the London-based A-Sharq Al Awsat daily reported that the U.S. embassy in Cairo has prepared a memorandum for Egypt to arrest Majid once he arrives in Cairo. The memorandum to Egyptian authorities terms Majid a war criminal who killed hundreds of thousands of Kurds in the 1980s.

The newspaper said U.S. ambassador David Welch has relayed a request for the arrest of other Iraqis for crimes against humanity. The identities of those Iraqis were not disclosed in the U.S. request, which contained Iraqi documents, videos and cassette tapes that pointed to the involvement of Majid and other Iraqis in war crimes. The documents were captured by the Kurds in northern Iraq in the early 1990s.

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